Odd Welsh vote means the election clock is ticking, unless someone eats humble pie…

What a mess. In a vote in the Senedd (Welsh Assembly) for First Minister this week, the Welsh Tories and UKIP pulled a nice wee stunt when they decided to vote for Leanne Woods of Plaid for First Minister.

With the sole Lib Dem AM siding with Labour’s Carwyn Jones  that left everything tied at 29 votes apiece. Therefore, no Welsh FM. Since then Labour has been trying to put it about that Plaid had agreed with UKIP and or the Tories beforehand.

That seems highly unlikely. More likely Plaid’s posturing as leader of an alternative government is being lampooned by the two smaller ‘opposition’ parties along with a reminder to Labour that the FM’s office is not theirs as of right.

The main takeaway: don’t posture with power. Standing for office without the political ‘money’ to win can be playing with fire.

The upshot is that the National Assembly for Wales now has 28 days from the election to choose a First Minister, or face a second election. Someone is going to have to back down. And the sooner, probably, the better.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Kevin Breslin


  • RWP

    PC will blink, if only because another election would put at risk the recently won Rhonda AM seat. Labour would throw every kitchen sink in Wales at that, both to win back their most symbolic seat (the only one they do not hold in their Valleys heartland) and also because it’s held by Leanne Wood herself.

  • Teddybear

    Al this and what’s happened in ROI is a case for first past the post to ensure solid stable government. It’s a mistake to assume the legislature should be truly representative. PR only encourages smaller parties and results in fractious and weak governments. The people do not realise that we are choosing a government, not a mish mash of delegates

  • fralycis

    Of course, I’m sure Labour would ensure there would be a First Minister and Deputy First Minister in an office of equal power, because ‘symbolism and all that jazz’… 😉

  • Kevin Breslin

    Plaid Cyrmu have the role of Presiding Officer, does that mean her vote counts as per normal?

  • Kevin Breslin

    People are encouraged to vote for these parties anyway, what happens is that the big parties end up making constituencies tribal chiefdom areas.

    In terms of “not encouraging people to vote for small parties” that’s not true of First Past the Post either. The example par excellence in terms of that is Northern Ireland parties combined having a lot less votes but more MPs than UKIP.

    Finally Welsh elections aren’t really PR anyway. The Additional Member system is D’hondt and that is not really proportional.

  • fralycis

    Hmm it seems clear that a 29-29 vote would continue to be a deadlock in a second vote (Lib Dem member very very unlikely to side with Leanne Wood. UKIP and Tories clearly grandstanding).

    Presiding Officer isn’t entitled to a vote as any bias shown from her would set a dangerous precedent for any future 29-29 votes.

    Interesting hypothetical scenario but imagine the Labour speaker resigning and labour doesn’t nominate to then swing a 30th vote for Jones to be elected First Minister (aka some formal or informal coalition with the Lib Dem member).

    Ah, the difference one election seat result makes…

  • fralycis

    (Of course much more likely that Labour need to negotiate with Plaid.)

  • Declan Doyle

    Welsh Independence on the way !!

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    How the conservatives ( out of sheer spite) can vote for an avowed Republican, who once was disciplined for referring to HM the Queen as Mrs Windsor is appalling.

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    Never!.80 per cent are happy with the UK…

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    But Plaid Cymru have never got more than 22 per cent of the vote and in fact less than half of the electorate voted. Such apathy exaggerates the standing of highly motivated groups. They were on 175,00 in 1970 and are only 212,000 today!

  • RWP

    True, but none of that changes my prediction that PC will back down. I’m not saying they’re entitled to the office, just that they’ll do what they can to make life awkward for Labour.

    As for apathy exaggerating the standing/power/influence of highly motivated groups…this just shows the importance of voting. Those abstainers who stay away do so of their own free will and can’t complain when those well organised groups get into power.

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    Well at least Leanne is honest about her Republicanism, unlke the Scot Nats.